Say goodbye to saccharine daiquiris and mango-tinis. At watering holes across the country, bartenders are reaching for the spice rack and the vegetable garden for inspiration. Savory is the new sweet, and here are six drinks that prove why. (Each recipe makes one drink.)
1 | Ginger
Its sweet spiciness cuts acidity and enlivens drier spirits, as shown by the Mamie Taylor, a scotch-and-ginger-beer combo from the Whistler in Chicago.
from the Whistler, Chicago; whistlerchicago.com
2 oz White Horse blended scotch whisky
¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz Sonoma Syrup Co. white ginger syrup
2 oz Gosling's Stormy ginger beer
1 sprig of rosemary
Pour first three ingredients over ice into a Collins glass, top with ginger beer, and garnish with rosemary sprig.
2 | Basil
Just a few leaves would overpower many spirits, but they complement a sweet vodka-based fizz like the Track 42, a specialty of 15 Romolo in San Francisco.
from 15 Romolo, San Francisco; 15romolo.com
1 egg white
5 to 8 basil leaves
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1¾ 42 Below Manuka honey vodka
1 oz unfiltered apple juice
½ oz simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
Combine egg white, basil, and lemon juice in a mixing glass and shake. Add remaining ingredients to the glass, add ice, and shake vigorously. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with medium-size basil leaf.
3 | Cucumber
For a kick of cool, green dilution, muddle cucumbers in a gin-driven citrus drink such as the Under the Hammer, served at Cure in New Orleans.
Under the Hammer
from Cure, New Orleans; curenola.com
1 cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 sprig of parsley
1 oz Plymouth gin
½ oz freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
½ oz freshly squeezed and strained orange juice
½ oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
½ oz VieuxPontarlier absinthe
Muddle one cucumber slice and a pinch of flat parsley in shaker. Add remaining ingredients, shake, and double strain into a coupe or martini glass.
4 | Bell Pepper
A pepper purée enhances the vegetal and spicy notes in a cocktail like the Southern Exposure, made with blanco tequila at New York City's Death + Co.
from Death + Co., New York City; deathandcompany.com
1½ oz jalapeno-infused Chinaco blanco tequila (see directions below)
½ oz Los Amantes Joven mezcal
½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
½ oz Petite Canne sugar-cane syrup
½ oz red-pepper puree (see directions below)
1 pinch kosher salt
Empty entire bottle of tequila into a pitcher. Add the seeds and ribs from four jalapenos and let sit 20 minutes to two hours. Then strain the infused tequila back into its bottle.
Put 1 cored, deseeded, and chopped red bell pepper in a blender with a few drops of water to allow the mixture to coagulate.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, shake, and double strain into a coupe or martini glass.
5 | Smoked Salt
Just a pinch will sharpen any flavor and give a whiskey-based concoction—such as the Mellow Time from Noble in Philadelphia—some earthiness.
The Mellow Time
from Noble, Philadelphia; noblecookery.com
1 Bosc pear, sliced into eighths
1½ oz Jameson whiskey
¾ honey syrup (1:1 honey to water)
¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of applewood-smoked salt
3 dashes Angostura bitters
In a mixing glass, muddle 1 pear slice, then add remaining ingredients, shake, double strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice, and garnish with a salted pear slice.
6 | Black Pepper
Adding a peppercorn infusion to gin gives the spirit's juniper notes extra heat, as perfected by Brooklyn's Counting Room in its Lazy Spring cocktail.
A Lazy Spring
from Counting Room, New York City; thecountingroombk.com
1 oz rosemary-infused M&R bianco vermouth (see directions below)
15 drops black-pepper-rye-whiskey tincture (see directions below)
1 oz Beefeater gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ oz honey
Empty half bottle of bianco vermouth into a pitcher. Add the leaves from 7 rosemary stalks and let sit 7 to 10 days. Then strain the infused vermouth back into its bottle.
Empty half bottle of Wild Turkey 101 rye whiskey into a pitcher. Add 6 tablespoons of black peppercorns and let sit 7 to 10 days. The strain the infused rye back into its bottle.
Pour all ingredients except the club soda into a mixing glass, add ice, stir, and then strain into a Collins glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a wide lemon twist.